‘Inadequate’ ambulance trust removes remote access to key meeting

By Emily Coady Stemp   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Friday 1st July 2022 12:39 pm
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Call staff at South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust
A Care Quality Commission report into SECAmb, released on June 22, rated leadership at the trust as “inadequate”, while its emergency operations centre was also deemed in need of improvement (SECAmb )

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An “inadequate” ambulance trust removed the option of attending a key meeting remotely where it discussed inspectors finding a culture of “bullying and harassment”.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) NHS Foundation Trust had dedicated two hours of a board meeting on Thursday (June 30) to responding to findings released this month about the service.

But despite the trust’s website saying meetings would be recorded, “open to the public in real time” and available to watch back, no such access is available for the latest meeting.

A Care Quality Commission report into the trust, released on June 22, rated leadership at the trust as “inadequate”, while its emergency operations centre was also deemed in need of improvement.

The CQC report said: “We found high levels of bullying and harassment, inappropriate sexualised behaviour and a high number of open grievances.”

The service’s interim chief executive Fionna Moore said the whole leadership team was committed to making SECAmb “a better place to work” so staff were best placed to respond to  patients.

The meeting agenda showed two hours would be dedicated to discussing the trust’s delivery plan and response to CQC inspection findings.

A SECAmb spokesperson apologised for the fact that the manner in which the meeting was being held was not clear.

They said that any member of the public or press could attend in person, but the trust would aim to make these meetings, which are being added to the Trust’s calendar, available to join remotely and to make a recording available afterwards.

The SECAmb spokesperson said: “We are committed to being open and transparent and this meeting is an additional meeting which will see us increase our public board meetings to monthly from every other month as we continue on our improvement journey.

“This is the first of these additional meetings, which are intended to be shorter assurance meetings. It is a requirement that we hold our board meetings in public.”

SECAmb covers 3,600 square miles and serves a population of more than 5 million people.

It runs the 999 service receiving calls and sending ambulances out across Surrey, Kent, Sussex and parts of Hampshire It also provides the NHS 111 service across Kent and Sussex.

A spokesperson for Healthwatch Surrey, an independent organisation which responds to patient feedback on health services, said: “We would encourage any public health and care organisation to provide accessible options for people to participate in their public board meetings, to enable the public to be part of important conversations affecting services that serve their community.”

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